Save on Foods Memorial Centre
(file photo)

By the end of September, Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria will no longer be used as a temporary housing facility.

In May, the B.C. government announced that the arena—most commonly used for events and hosting local WHL team the Victoria Royals—would be converted into an emergency response centre to house 45 people from the city’s homeless encampments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

GSL Group, who operates the arena, along with PHS Community Services managed the space offered to marginalized groups in the Victoria over the past several months.

The space housed beds in individual ‘pods’, which acted as a place to adequately physically distance.

Pop-up pods assembled to house homeless at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (BC Government)

According to BC Housing, their lease at the arena expires at the end of September and everyone will be moved out of the arena by the end of the month.

BC Housing’s Laura Matthews told Victoria Buzz in a statement that the lease was originally extended due to ongoing renovations at Paul’s Motor Inn, which limited its capacity. As those renovations are completed this month, the available rooms will provide homes to many of the people currently staying at the arena.

“BC Housing is appreciative of GSL Group and PHS Community Services for their partnership and making it possible to operate the Save on Foods Memorial Arena as an emergency response centre over the past several months,” reads the statement from BC Housing.

BC Housing adds that they have used the last few months to develop transition plans for all shelter guests at the arena, ensuring everyone will be able to transition into appropriate housing with the right support services.

PHS Community Services is also operating Paul’s Motor Inn, and will transition its staff at the arena to that building once the arena closes.

The move may be due to Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre preparing for this year’s upcoming WHL season, which was postponed due to COVID-19, but is slated to officially kick off Friday, December 4, 2020.

Victoria Buzz has reached out to GSL Group for comment, but received no reply prior to publication.

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